Other things may change us, but we start and end with the family. ~Anthony Brandt
The weatherman foretold a 30% chance of showers and it rained 100% of the day. We could have picked a better day to lug thousands of dollars worth of photo and video equipment up a muddy, rocky hillside covered with slippery leaves and cow paddies. We might have waited until the trees were fully dressed in their Autumn finery, bathing in the spotlight of a crisp October sun.
Something more important than personal comfort or possible equipment damage drove us up to the holler that day. That something was family.
A few days before, my dad offhandedly remarked that he was planning to go to the old home place where he was born. His sister and some of her family were going as well. The primary intention for the visit was for her grandson (my cousin Raleigh) to produce a video to send to their brother, our Uncle Don, who lay dying in a Philadelphia hospital.
When I asked dad why he had not mentioned it earlier, he said he wasn't sure I would want to go.
Are you kidding me?
There are so many reasons I would want to go. The opportunity to see and photograph the place where my father was born and the setting for all the stories I'd heard throughout my childhood was all the reason I needed to cancel my previous labor day plans and trudge forward through the mud and the muck. With our busy and far flung lives, the opportunity for us to take this journey together as a family might not have presented itself again.
Sadly, Uncle Don passed away yesterday before he was able to receive this gift. We sent the photos I took, but I'm not sure he was able to see them either. For the rest of us, this video and the photos are a priceless treasure. I know my boys, who believe the sun rises and sets on my father's head and are as sentimental about family as anyone I know, will be glad to have it always. Be sure to watch until the very end to see my dad singing a little tune about paw paw fruit. I happen to think he's adorable in this.
The person who looks like the hunchback of Notre Dame lurking around the dark corners of barns was me in a rain poncho and the hunchback was my backpack full of photography gear. Below is a slideshow of the photos I took that day. I'm still not done processing them all, so there will be more added over time.